This light and delicate British drama explores the traumas of adapting to life after wartime.
Step aside Emily Brontë: If there was ever a way making the countryside of northeast England look even more bleak than usual, Ben Crowe has found it with his intriguing directorial debut. Verity’s Summer is a coming-of-age tale which takes place amidst the breakdown of family ideals, and there's also a political twist.
Set in an isolated British coastal town during the mid 2000s, the film follows 16-year-old Verity (Indea Barbe-Willson), a curious teen on the brink of womanhood, whose summer runs in tandem with thirtysomething Castle (Martin McGlade), a nomadic, troubled war veteran.
As Verity’s curiosity heightens, we realise there is more to her family than meets the eye, as references to the effects of the social and political climate creep into their insular unit. Anti-climactic? Possibly. But Crowe’s objective is clear — to shed a personable, humanist light on the effects of war.
It’s no accident that the release of the film coincides with both The Al Sweady Inquiry and the 10-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Verity’s Summer explores the horrors of war from an outsider’s perspective and juxtaposes global events with personal human development.
The imagery is predictable yet effective: the flowing of the waves represent life’s constant state of flux; the poor communication between characters mirrors the lack of public knowledge on 'what really happened' in Iraq; and the conflict of war mirrors the conflict between Verity’s own family. However the fundamental issue of the film is that conflict resonates in both global and confined areas of life and such issues can only be explored through generational change and an innocent, child-like curiosity.
Verity herself (as is frequently stated) represents this change that will grow over the coming years. Personally, she is coming to terms with the breakdown of her parent’s relationship, her own burgeoning sexuality and her aspirations of adulthood. Mirroring these preoccupations is the world’s coming-to-terms with the truths surrounding Britain’s involvement with the war.
But for all its clichés, Verity’s Summer is a compelling debut which executes a delicate yet powerful sense of cultural awareness.
A director’s debut could swing either way.
Imagery a little obvious. A coming-of-age story of the break down of a family has been seen a little too often.
Crowe’s references to relevant political circumstances are well executed and the approach is fresh.